Extracurricular Reading

I took a break from most improv things for the past 6 weeks because first I was too pregnant to move, and now I have a 1 month old baby who doesn’t like to be set down for very long at a time. Luckily for my sanity, Circus Police practices at my house, so I’ve been able to play a little bit (and have some grown-up human interaction) most weeks. While I was in the hospital, they left all of this at my house, because they are the best.

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A banner for our kid!

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And snacks and flowers for us!

While I haven’t had the mobility or energy to teach classes or see shows lately, I have been stuck in one spot holding a kid who will get very upset if I move even a little. And I’ve been stuck in that spot with a phone, so I’ve been catching up on articles that have been sitting in Pocket for awhile. (I really like Pocket. They are not sponsoring this post, but if they WANTED to sponsor an irregularly updated improv blog, they would be welcome.) Here are the improv-related articles that have stuck out to me, in case you need some extracurricular reading:

 

Why People Get Obsessed: The Religion of Improv

The most popular improv advice sounds like spiritual challenges. “Follow the fear” — without even considering if that’s actually practical advice for an improvised comedy scene, you want to believe that. You’ve been hungry to have someone tell you to follow the fear. You find a way to make that advice true.

You may come to improv because you like comedy, but if you stay, it’s because all this advice challenges you in a way that you’ve been hungry for. You want this to be a more interesting world, and you want to be a braver person, and then in a dingy improv classroom someone is saying it to you.

Going Clear: Improv and the Prison of Yes And-ing (parody! Improv is great!)

6 Ways to Be the Most Annoying Person in Your Improv Class

Another great way to alienate yourself from your improv class is to be the person who is too cool to do improv. Roll your eyes during the warm games and mutter “This is stupid” under your breath. … Make it clear you don’t want to be there and that you are obviously above all of this. This will give your classmates plenty to talk about at the bar after class.

We Asked an Improv Coach to Rate the Republicans’ Debate Performances

Gethard … quickly realized that the debate had two broad things in common with improv: “Way too many white dudes, and sycophantic cheering.” But, more important, he deduced that each of the men fell into a specific archetype of improv performer and was even able to determine which candidates would be good at improv, and which would be terrible.

Why Isn’t Your Improv Theater Diverse?

If you are a white male, you might be getting defensive right now. I know I have in the past when confronting this issue. We think that all we have to do is be fair. We think if we have open auditions and cast “the best people” then eventually our ensembles will get more diverse. We think if we recruit people of color to be in our classes that eventually they will become a part of shows. And maybe they will. But it’s not enough. If your performers are mostly young, white, straight men, I bet that in 10 years, they will still mostly be white, straight men, only the median age will have changed.

If you really want change, you have to do more.

Improvising a Better World (Tedx Napa Valley talk by Dan O’Connor)

Not about improv, but relevant anyway: “Hamilton” and the End of Irony

It is unabashedly dorky. It’s not a “nerd” in quotes. In fact, it never wears air-quotes at all. …

This is new.

If the success of “Hamilton” signals anything, it is that irony is dead. We have exhausted its creative potential. Making things with quotation marks around them is exhausting. Standing at one remove is over. Put your air-quotes away. You won’t need them anymore.

This Friday, I’ll shake off the rust and jump back onto the stage at Westside. I’ve never performed or taught at Westside without also being pregnant. Next week, I’ll resume teaching the Free Class. (Man, I love the Free Class. You should drop by.)

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